Jordan L. Zweck
Position title: Associate Professor
6145 Helen C. White Hall
- Old English, medieval studies, medieval documentary culture, sound studies, media studies, history of the English language, history of the book, Old Norse
Degrees and Institutions
- Ph.D., English Language and Literature, Yale University
- M.Phil., Medieval Studies, Yale University
- B.S., English, University of Wisconsin – Madison
“Silence in the Exeter Book Riddles,” Exemplaria 28.4 (2016): 319-336.
“Make A Noise Joyful: Cirm in the Old English Exodus,” Sounding Out! 6/13/2016 https://soundstudiesblog.com/2016/06/13/make-a-noise-joyful-cirm-in-the-old-english-exodus/
“Two Recently Discovered Fragments of Nassington and Rolle.” Journal of the Early Book Society 13 (2010): 203-219.
I specialize in early medieval vernacular literatures and cultures, focusing on Old English and Anglo-Saxon England. I am especially interested in the intersections between medieval studies and documentary culture, media studies, and sound studies. My first book, Epistolary Acts: Anglo-Saxon Letters and Early English Media, examines Anglo-Saxon epistolarity and early English media, examining the representation of letters in vernacular texts such as letters from heaven, hagiography, and poetry. I am also working on a second book on sound, noise, and silence in Anglo-Saxon England, portions of which have appeared in Exemplaria and Sounding Out! Other research interests include archive theory, affect theory, the history of the emotions, and the history of the book.
I teach courses on Old English, Beowulf, Chaucer, Medieval Marvels and Monstrosities, History of the English Language, and medieval media. I also enjoy teaching the survey of early British Literature (English 241), and have recently taught the seminar in the major (English 245) on the topic of sound in literature. In 2015, I received the William H. Kiekhofer Award, one of the university’s Distinguished Teaching awards.
Zweck, J. L. Epistolary Acts: Anglo-Saxon Letters and Early English Media. University of Toronto Press, 2018.
As challenging as it is to imagine how an educated cleric or wealthy lay person in the early Middle Ages would have understood a letter (especially one from God), it is even harder to understand why letters would have so captured the imagination of people who might never have produced, sent, or received letters themselves.
In Epistolary Acts, Jordan Zweck examines the presentation of letters in early medieval vernacular literature, including hagiography, prose romance, poetry, and sermons on letters from heaven, moving beyond traditional genre study to offer a radically new way of conceptualizing Anglo-Saxon epistolarity. Zweck argues that what makes early medieval English epistolarity unique is the performance of what she calls “epistolary acts,” the moments when authors represent or embed letters within vernacular texts. The book contributes to a growing interest in the intersections between medieval studies and media studies, blending traditional book history and manuscript studies with affect theory, media studies, and archive studies.Read more